Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

A Mom and Her “Friend”

“I’m a mom of two,” she said today.

“My days and nights don’t end.”

“Now, now…there, there, it can’t be that bad,” offered a “friend.”

“There’s poop and puke, croup and tears

“Then there’s colic, too

“And, why the hell did no one tell me age three’s much worse than two?”

Her friend looked shocked.  “What do you mean?”

She didn’t help at all.

“I just always think being a mom is such a terrific ball!”

“Come on,” she said, “you know it’s hard always being ‘on.’

“There’s never a break – a chance – a breath

“And something’s always wrong.

“Strained peas in hair, temper tantrums, midnight feeds and more

“I’m sad to remember five years ago

“When my life was such a bore.”

“Me, too,” “friend” said. “My childless days were the worst I had!

“Carpools, playdates, chores and more

“Make ME so very glad!”

Reaching in the fridge just then made her smile a bit.

She poured a glass of wine just then

And took just one small sip.

She slid the dirty glass to “friend” and smiled like an elf

Then she kept the rest of the bottle

To finish for herself.

They don’t call it an “idiot box” for nothing…

Ever stop to really check out what your kids are watching?

Of course you have.  That’s why you know all of the words to the Wiggles theme song and why you wake up in a cold sweat wondering where you put all of Jake’s gold doubloons.

There’s really something out there for everyone’s little ones.  

For the spawn of fomer club kids, there’s Lazy Town (Sprout).  It has everything.  Girl in Katy Perry wig?  Check.  Superhero who fights crimes with Cheer Dance?  Perfectly-coifed, chisel-chinned villain with high-waisted pants that are, frankly, so fabulous that they deserve three snaps in a “Z” formation?  Check and check.  Plastic puppet people?  Check.  Seriously.  I can’t tell if the people who invented the show are all on ecstasy, are very, very gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or are just European.  One look at the credits and their overabundance of “S”s (names like Samuelsson, Karlsson, Joahnsson) tells me that it is door #3.  


Speaking of drug-fueled children’s entertainment, ever seen Yo Gabba Gabba (Nick Jr)?  If those folks aren’t on acid, then Gordon the Express Engine isn’t the fastest steamie on the island of Sodor.  Wait.  Oh, preschool entertainment is all becoming a jumble…  My mind is mush.  Calgon, take me away…

But, there’s more.  Want your kids to love James Bond as much as you do?  There’s Special Agent Oso (Disney Junior).  One part 007, one part Get Smart and one part Teddy Ruxpin, this “unique, stuffed bear” is actually very cute and offers something for the parents and the grandparents with its wink and nod to the bygone spy genre. 

When you were a kid, did you love Sesame Street  (PBS) and think that that new red monster, Elmo, was kinda cute?  Good.  Watch Sesame Street now.  He’s staged a coup and is pretty much all that is on that show anymore. 

Remember how Jem was truly outrageous when you were little?  Well, girl power has come along way and now the kids have Dora the Explorer (Nick Jr.).  A little girl of unknown Latin origin helps your kids learn Spanish and learn about the world with the help of a moderately annoying monkey.  The preschool set (particularly the little girls) find it totally addictive.  You’ll find it tolerable, at least.

Someone let me know if you figure out why Caillou is bald, okay?

Want to see what the perfect child is like?  Watch a little Caillou (Sprout).  While you will find that this theme song will haunt your dreams, the show is kinda cute.  Except the title character (what the hell kind of name is that, anyway?) does things like turn down an opportunity to turn on the siren on a fire truck because it’s his friend’s “turn” to do so, and he comforts his little sister while she’s teething.  He also, of course, totally understands when he is too sick to attend his beloved preschool and perform his much-anticipated puppet show and he doesn’t whine, stomp, cry or bitch – EVER.  Just like my kid.

Want to watch a show where you won’t understand a damn word that anyone says, even though it is all in English?  Try Fireman Sam (Sprout).  Want to help your kids appreciate They Might Be Giants?  Watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Disney Junior).

Honestly, there is something out there for everyone so that we all can plunk our kids down in front of the boob tube and go do shots of tequilla in the kitchen to numb the pain of ears that are bleeding from hearing “mom — mom — mommy — ma — mom — mom — mommy — MA!! — MOMMMMMMYYY!!” a little too often.

Any thoughts on other totally interesting children’s programming?  Feel free to comment here.

Who am I?


Trent Reznor made me understand  today.

While coming home from the grocery store, my Sirius/XM memory alert thingy ding-donged and let me know that one of my favorite songs was on another channel.  I absent-mindedly switched over.  

Then, I suddenly found myself alone in my car, radio blasting something from Pretty Hate Machine, singing as loudly as I could.  I was 16 again.

My Sirius is almost always tuned to Lithium.  I often hear them say, “You used to Rage Against the Machine.  Now you just rage against the washing machine.”  


That pretty much says it all.


Remember just having to worry about whether or not your parents UNDERSTOOD you?  Remember not even having to pay for your own gas money, even though your parents swore that you’d have to pay for all your own gas if you borrowed the car?  Remember knowing that you were going to graduate, go to college, get a degree, get married, have a kick-ass career, have a family, live in a house with a driveway, own a dog who could catch frisbees, and then eventually retire to Key West?

Neither did I.

Thought you were angsty, lost and uncertain when you were in 8th grade, though?  Try becoming a parent.

I realized today that one of my biggest struggles as a mother has been figuring out who I now am.  I thought I knew.  And, as I left my twenties and entered my thirties, I felt like so much more of myself and I was thrilled to leave a naïve, self-conscious young girl behind to become a strong, independent woman.  But, then I became a mom.

Everything I thought I understood about the person I was becoming -who I hoped to be- had changed. 

I had been driven in my career – focused, interested in moving up, begging for more responsibility.

Now I wish they’d let me just work part time.  Or telecommute.  Or just pay me to stay the hell home and do as little as possible.

I had been independent.  I enjoyed nights when my husband would work late because I’d take a long, hot shower, watch my favorite TV shows, read a book and eat Ramen noodles for dinner and drink a glass of wine.

Now I am pissed when my husband has to come home late because I am left by myself to deal with screaming tantrums, a family dinner he may or may not get home in time to eat, pureed peas in my hair, a pile of laundry, a stack of work to be completed for – you know – the people who PAY me, and a bank of shows in the DVR that might be watched  sometime before the summer of 2064.  And, you know, just walk away from your desk and come home, jerkface.  I can’t just stay at work whenever I want for however long I want.  Why are you special? 

When I was in high school, I knew exactly where I was going.  I didn’t need a guidance counselor to help me figure things out.   Now I just wish I could find someone to help me sort out my life.  Since I was born with a vagina, I have to choose now between primarily being a parent or being a careerperson.  There aren’t many ways to be both and to do both jobs as well as they can and should be done.   Interestingly, men don’t seem to have to make these kind of decisions.

Though I always figured that I wanted to have children, I never really knew that doing so would make me feel as though I had lost myself.  I am probably not ever going to get that PhD. I had always wanted now.  I will likely not, conversely, make it to every recital, meet, match, game, concert and event in which my children are involved.  Truth is, I don’t really know who I am anymore, and I don’t know anymore what I want to be when I grow up.  But, trying to be a supermom isn’t working out that well.

There’s a whole lot of animosity between stay-at-home moms and working moms.  Many working moms don’t respect the stay-at-home moms.  And, the stay-at-home moms don’t understand why the working moms want their children raised by nannies or institutions.  We should all start banding together and demanding more of American culture – demanding better workplace-based childcare, opportunities for at-home moms to be a part of working society, job flexibility, job sharing opportunities, more paid time off for family sick leaves,  and more mom-friendly business practices in general.

Though I found a little piece of the 1993-me I thought I had left behind today, I am glad not to be a teenager anymore.  I do really love my children and I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate.  I just wish that I could retreat for one afternoon, listen to Liz Phair on my Discman, paint my toenails with Revlon Vixen polish and watch reruns of My So-Called Life.  Just one afternoon is all I ask.  Maybe it will make me feel a little better…

I’m going to be honest with you…

I’ve often wondered why people start a conversation by saying, “I’m going to be honest with you.”  Is everything you normally say a bunch of horseshit, but now you will bother to take time to share but a small momentary truth with me?  Should I be honored?  Or, is “I’m going to be honest with you” just filler language, much like “You know what I’m sayin’?” or “Now…um…let me see.”

In this case, I am going to be honest about something women never seem to want to be honest about.  I mean, I always knew that women were prone to try to destroy one another rather than build one another up.  But, when I became a mother, I really understood how this dynamic existed for the very first time.

Throughout my pregnancy, I wondered why Jenny McCarthy was the only one who would tell me the truth about what was going to happen to me.  Varicose veins, sciatica, indigestion, hemorrhoids, nausea, vomiting, completely messed up dreams, food aversions, migraines, incontinence, acid reflux — the list goes on.  But, oh, that acid reflux.  Each night I would wake up about a half a dozen times with the feeling that I was gagging and choking on hot acid someone had poured down my throat as I slept.  Woulda been nice if SOMEONE would have mentioned this to me before.  Really, people.

My husband and I tried for a very long time to have our first child.  A few years prior, a family member went through gastric bypass surgery.  To qualify for the surgery, she had to undergo a littany of tests, including psychiatric batteries which would determine her emotional fitness to carry out the long-term responsibilities of dealing with a major life-altering surgery.

Yet, when I sought medical advice to become pregnant, no one warned me of the side effects, questioned my fitness to handle the long-term responsibilities of my decision, discussed the hardships it would dispatch upon my body or even just mention how hard being a mom might be.

Why might we worry more that someone might not be able to give up Snickers than we do whether someone might be fully ready to handle something like –say– natural childbirth with vaginal tearing?  Or 23 hours of back labor?  Or 3 months of a baby’s colic? 

The truth is:  women hate each other.  Its primal.  We just fucking hate each other.  There’s no other explanation.

Well, until now.

I decided that enough was enough.  So, Off Duty Mom is giving it to you straight with the top five things no one ever told you would happen as you become a mom…

1.  No matter how wonderful your partner is, this is not a partnership.  One person will be the primary care-giver.  The less you expect your partner to do his/her “fair” part, the less you will be disappointed by that person’s consistent failure to live up to your fantasy.  Do not fool yourself into believing that child-raising is a 50/50 job between two loving parents.  It is not.  No, your partner isn’t different.  And, worse, if you are hoping that “things will get better between [you] once the baby comes,” they will NOT.  Having a child is extremely intense.  And, if your partner was an asshole before your life’s biggest stressor existed, he or she is just going to prove that you hadn’t seen nothin’ before.

2.  Being pregnant sucks.  Lots of women tell you about how beautiful everything was and, when they see you stretched out in your ninth month, they’ll say, “oh–I MISS being pregnant.  I just loved every minute of it.”  They are liars.  Every minute of it is absolutely not roses and rainbows.  And, when they tell you how wonderful their delivery was and how they just don’t remember the pain, please know that that is because the pain is so intense that they probably blacked out from it.  Seriously.  Now, pregnancy is not the same for everyone and some do have an easier go at it, but even people fortunate enough to have a relatively easy pregnancy will still have embarassing gas, occasional constipation, minor headaches, pretty terrible fatigue, back pain, swollen and throbbing ankles, and/or uncontrollable sweating.  Pregnancy is not beautiful, though it brings something beautiful into existence.  If you keep your eye on that prize, you, too, can eventually be one of the lucky ones who may forget about things like diarrhea and pester some young, plump woman in a grocery store about how much you miss being pregnant.  Just remember not to touch that stranger’s belly.  Always remember how much you hated that.

3.  From the moment you hear you’re going to be a parent, you will never stop worrying again.  You’ll worry your pregnancy won’t be carried to term, that you will have health issues, whether you made the right decision not to get that amnio, that your child might not be popular, that someone will kidnap her, that teachers won’t be nice to her, that she’ll fall and get hurt, that she’ll want to hurt herself, that she’ll marry a real prick… The list goes on and on and changes over time, but it never gets any easier.

4.  You’ll never be the same again.  Losing weight is very difficult after delivery unless you have full-time childcare help.  Very little of your time will be for YOU, so getting to the gym or to your yoga studio like you did before will be nearly impossible — and your ability to get back into shape will be further delayed if you have had a C-Section.  And, if you deliver vaginally, you will bleed a whole lot.  Really, I mean it — please prepare yourself.  They give you soak-proof bed pads to protect your sheets for a few DAYS.  They tell you that you should only call a doctor if you soak through the largest of the maxi pads each hour.  You heard me right.  So, soaking them every other hour is considered normal.  And, there’s more.  Your boobs will sag practically the day after your milk dries up and they will never — absolutely never — look the same ever again.  Though you were never pregnant in your ass, that, too, will drop an inch or two inexplicably.  Sorry.  And, don’t believe your OB/GYN:  your varicose and spider veins will likely not go away after you deliver.  Neither will hemorrhoids.  But, the relief from the acid reflux is basically instantaneous, so at least you have that going for you…

5.  Every minute of being a mother is hard.  But, it is amazing and wonderful all at the same time.  But, this blog is about the truth about the hard parts, so perhaps we should focus here.  I love my children, but there is never a moment of my day when I am not tired.  And, stop trying to think that things will get easier when he can feed himself/potty on his own/ go to grade school/ drive himself around.  It will not get easier.  It will simply get different.

Now, at almost 9:30 pm, I will go now to fall into bed and hope that my infant child will sleep more than four hours in a row.  And, if he doesn’t, perhaps that will just provide me with a little creative fuel to blog in the future about being a mom between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.  There’s a whole lot to say about that…


The “Off Duty Mom” Story

When I was very young, my mother would grab a novel as evening approached and place it on her nightstand. Then, when I was tucked in, she’d put on a flannel nightgown, sit on her bed, put a pillow in her lap, prop up her book and declare herself “off duty.” Inevitably, I’d come into her room, she would sigh with exasperation, flop her book down, look at me over the top rims of her glasses and say “WHAT?!” I’d ask for a glass of water/midnight snack/ trip to the potty/ snuggle to ease my fears of nightmares/ answers to questions about the meaning of life…

numerous times.

I never understood the desperate need to have one MOMENT — one breath during which no one was throwing up on me, crying, throwing a tantrum, repeating “MOM — MOM — MOM.”

Until now.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: